Phillip Smith

Preparing for Web of Change 2007

Every year I'm still amazed to see that first Web of Change announcement in my inbox. Why? I just can't believe that is has been almost nine months since the last gathering; it feels like I was there just last week.

Well, Web of Change is here again. This year the dates are September 19th - 23rd and, as always, it will be held at the Hollyhock Retreat Centre. If you've already been in touch with one of the organizers, feel free to get in touch with Hollyhock and have the first pick of available lodgings. If you haven't been in touch yet and would like to attend, please drop a quick note to Sarah Pullman with a short introduction.

And, if you've never heard of Web of Change, you're probably asking: Why the heck would I want to go? Well, there was a great (unprompted) conversation on the Progressive Exchange mailing list recently that asked just that question. Some "WOCers-for-life" responded with some candid answers... here are my favourites:

  • "Beyond the amazing setting (Hollyhock is right out of a fairytale), you will meet and interact with committed, knowledgeable people who live and breathe technology and online strategy."
  • "The opportunity to clarify and focus your online work in the service of social change -- and to meet an amazing, diverse crew of others doing the same."
  • "A challenging, engaging programme of case studies, workshops, keynotes, breakouts and more."
  • "What makes it so very special is not the 'professional development' but the incredibly powerful connection back to why we do all what we do"
  • "The people, the spectacularly beautiful environment, and the structure of the retreat all lead back to re-discovering why we are all in this in the first place"

I've already heard from many Web of Change "alumni" (many folks that have been to Web of Change tend to come back again and again) that they'll be returning this fall. I've also heard from a surprising number of people that they've made the decision to attend for the first time this year. This year promises to be a historic moment in the event's history, as it's the first year that Web of Change will be the only event at Hollyhock from September 19th - 23rd.

The astute among you will recognize those dates as falling awfully close to Rosh Hashanah and running right through Yom Kippur. And, as one of the event's organizers, I can share with you that we struggle with this scheduling challenge every year. The history of the event's timing, and it's connection to Hollyhock, is straightforward: Web of Change is part of an ecosystem of events that have grown and evolved with the direct help of Hollyhock, its staff, its founders and funders, and -- more recently -- Hollyhock Leadership Institute; and the event's popularity means it can be held in a "shoulder season" -- typically a quieter time for Hollyhock -- which, in turn, helps Hollyhock Retreat Centre grow and evolve its work and programming. We'll keep working to explore ways to be as accessible as possible -- that's one of our driving mandates -- but we will always be somewhat limited by the logistics of holding a five-day, 90 person, gathering on a remote island off the west-coast of Canada. (So please bear with us!)

Speaking of accessibility... I just want to quickly point out that the event wouldn't be possible without the generous support of a number of key sponsors who return year-after-year: Communicopia, Renewal Partners, ONENorthwest, Tides Canada, Watershed company, WhatCounts, GrowthWorks, Zanby, Hollyhock Leadership Institute, and Bryght. Sponsors make it possible for almost 50% of participants to receive some kind of financial support toward attending the event. If you'd like to sponsor this year's event, please contact me for more information.

Just a final reminder: If you've already been in touch with one of the organizers, feel free to call Hollyhock to get registered. If you haven't been in touch yet and would like to attend, please drop a quick introduction to Sarah Pullman.

I'll leave you with this final quote from a previous participant: "Keep in mind that it takes almost a day to get there. You will take a plane (or two), a boat and a car. The location is remote! So, my advice would be to take an extra day at the beginning or end of the event and spend it in Vancouver or some other local destination."

Hope to see you there!


Hi, I'm Phillip Smith, a veteran digital publishing consultant, online advocacy specialist, and strategic convener. If you enjoyed reading this, find me on Twitter and I'll keep you updated.


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